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Commercialization of the welfare -a Swedish phenomenon?

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by Imperiuz, Aug 30, 2013.

  1. Imperiuz

    Imperiuz Liberty will prevail

    I'd like to bring up an issue that might be quite exclusively Sweidsh. At least that's my feeling, because I often have trouble even explaining the issue to foreigners.

    The commercialization of the welfare sector, or - depending on your political stance - freedom of choice in the welfare sector is probably the biggest political issue over here. The current centre-right government loves voucher systems and have introduced those in various welfare sectors, from healthcare to schools, employment offices, pharmacies, motor-vehicle inspections, postal services and a few more things. The schooling system, for example, is entirely based on vouchers, were students are treated like customers and both publicly and privately run schools compete for the money they receive from the government through each individual student. Private (called "Free") schools are forbidden from taking any additional fees from their students, but are in return allowed to make profit from the public money they receive.

    The competition has it's advantages. As a student, one can chose schools depending on your own taste. There are schools with more or less homework, schools who offer services like hiking tours into the wild, free laptops, or schools were students play football matches each day. Myself, I could stay at the same place when graduating from elementary to high school, because my school had started to offer both services. But it also has a downside when schools relax on discipline and give students better grades than they deserve for their own competitiveness sake. Not long ago, a public outrage was caused by a documentary about a school brand that had made big profits (around a quarter billion SEK, translates into 28.804.000 €). Former students were interviewed revealing how they used to play Counter Strike or World of Warcraft during lessons on the laptops they had been given by the school, and the teachers just pretended they didn't see what was going on.

    I have experienced this as well. I played quite a lot of Heroes of Might and magic during maths lessons, were one was allowed to bring laptops, and the teacher just ignored it. I'm am not sure on my stance, but around 85% of the Swedes are against profit-making in the welfare sector, but only the radical left (V) and the radical right (SD) are proposing measures against it (they have different solutions for it though).

    In the documentary I mentioned,
    they claimed that Sweden is the only country in the world where private companies are are allowed to make a profit from fully tax-funded schools. So that's basically my question: is this true, and is this entire issue a somewhat uniquely Swedish phenomenon, or is it something going in in your country as well?
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  2. marrked

    marrked Newbie

    Welfare and socialization are the major part of humanity to be focused at all levels. This is my favorite thing to be discussed in any forum. Anyhow thanks to be so social and serving the humanity.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2013
  3. mindlight

    mindlight See in the dark Supporter

    You have asked quite a specialist question. In the UK there are public and private schools. It is possible to get a profit in a private school but their reputation depends on being able to produce pupils attractive to the universities and the grades of students which are also related to a standard and official grading system.

    I believe grants are sometimes given to private schools by the state to allow poorer pupils to go to good schools for instance. I was myself in a school which accepted these grants but then changed from privately funded grammar school to publically funded comprehensive as a result. It lost a lot of its independence but maintained very good standards through the transition.

    The principle of competition between schools is there whether in private or public sectors. I find it hard to believe that employers and universities cannot tell the difference between good and bad schools in Sweden. If private ownership reduces costs then good but it must also maintain or improve standards and we have a standard in grades to measure how well they do.

    Swedens overall ranking is lower than the OECD average but not disastrously so but much lower than the German or UK system for instance

    OECD Education Rankings – 2013 Update | Signs of Our Times
  4. Cjwinnit

    Cjwinnit Advocatus Diaboli (Retired)

    Most private schools are non-profitmaking trusts.